One person’s decision to make a difference can impact an entire community.
While people look toward PDRM, medical staff and the army as real-life heroes during the enforcement of this MCO, they tend to forget the helpers on wheels who roam the streets day and night, just to ensure citizens are fed during this difficult season.
What started as a concerned Foodpanda rider’s worry for the well-being of frontliners and the needy grew into an initiative involving 25 food delivery riders (16 from FoodPanda, 19 from GrabFood) pooling their money together to distribute hundreds of packed cooked food a week for those who need help.
The concerned rider known as, Mohd Firdaus Abd Hamid, told Malaysiakini that he initially started pooling small amounts of money amongst other Foodpanda riders via their Whatsapp group, “We managed to collect RM615 in just four hours, some donated RM5, some donated RM10, and some donated more than that.” The group took to the streets on 18th March and delivered about 100 packs of free food to frontliners!
While it may have seemed like a small-scale distribution, it was definitely enough to grab the attention of GrabFood rider, Mohamad Amer Rezwan Jamil, who caught sight of the riders delivering food to University Malaya Medical Centre. He approached the group and soon enough, a collaborative effort between the two competing food services emerged.
They donated to the neglected homeless people
By 10th April, the riders turned their attention to the neglected homeless people of Kuala Lumpur. They decidedly made Friday their day of operations as Friday prayers were cancelled following the start of MCO so the riders grouped together on this designated day of the week to carry out their aid work, and they plan on doing so for as long as the order is in effect: “We plan to do this every Friday until the MCO ends,” said Amer.
Unlike larger NGOs, the rider’s initiative is loosely organised but everything is based on mutual trust among the riders. “So far, the GrabFood riders have donated about RM700, and we spent RM300 today so the remaining amount will be used in the following week,” Amer added, while explaining how the GrabFood riders would send money to his personal account and he would then transfer a certain amount to Firdaus weekly.
As the group grew, they were able to expand operations and increase the amount of aid sent. Initially, the group would just deliver 150 packs of food, but by April, they were delivering 600 to help the needy. Some of the food aid is even cooked by the riders themselves or their families!
“My wife, my dad and mum helped to prepare this food,” said 28-year-old rider, Irfan, who contributed 54 packs of food to deliver on top of the existing 600 delivered that Friday.
While the rider admitted that he couldn’t contribute financially, he would spend hours on end cooking and preparing food to give out to the homeless:“We started cooking from 9pm last night (April 9) to about 3am this morning and we packed the food by 5am,” said Irfan.
What’s amazing about this initiative is that the group of riders don’t even follow a set list of addresses. They know just where to find the homeless and needy who require help from their experience of roaming the cities to make food deliveries. From bus stops, sidewalks to those waiting in front of certain shops, these heroes on wheels have seen it all.
Nonetheless, the riders are sure to keep to the safe rule of social distancing while operating their aid deliveries. They would only pass the food to the needy and ask them if they need water but most recipients say “thank you”, and go on their way.
“For me, food delivery riders like us can still work, and move around and get our salary,” said Amer. “But there are many people who have lost their jobs, the shops can’t even open, and they have no income. So I think we can share what we have, and at least we managed to help some people, and contribute to society.”
What a heartwarming initiative. We hope this inspires you to do what you can for those around you in need. Kudos to Firdaus, Amer and the rest of these delivery riders for showing us how a little kindness can go a long way!
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